raw high-fidelity speaker cable without any connectors. The cable should display a detailed braided sheath

When it comes to setting up audio equipment in your home, the type of cables you use can be just as critical as the hardware itself. One common question for DIY enthusiasts is whether it’s better to run a long RCA cable from the source to an amp located next to the speakers or use a long speaker cable from the amp to the speakers.

Signal Susceptibility and Interference

There's a general consensus that speaker wire signals are less susceptible to interference compared to RCA cables. This can be especially significant if you are running the cables behind walls where they might be exposed to electromagnetic noise from other electrical lines.

Gauge and Material Matters

When opting for long runs of speaker cables, it's crucial to choose a suitable gauge and material. Oxygen-free copper is often recommended over aluminum-clad copper for better signal quality. The thickness (gauge) of the wire can also play a role; a thicker wire may be more effective for longer runs, reducing signal loss and potential degradation of audio quality.

The Balanced Option

Some argue that using balanced cables like XLR instead of RCA is the "correct" way to tackle this problem. However, it's important to note that balanced connections require compatible outputs on the device, something not common on consumer-level devices. Even though balanced cables offer significant advantages in minimizing interference and delivering a clearer signal over longer distances, they might not be applicable to all setups.

Alternatives and DIY Solutions

For those who love tinkering, DIY solutions such as using baluns for long cable runs have been reported to be effective. These can run over distances as long as 300 ft with minimal signal drop-off and noise reduction. Ethernet to RCA boxes using audio-grade transformers have also been used successfully. However, the performance of such DIY solutions in an audiophile system might vary and warrant careful consideration.

Audio Roll-offs and Industry Insights

Some professionals in the broadcast sector have noted that long runs of RCA cables could lead to high-frequency roll-offs, affecting the sound quality. On the other hand, they've successfully run speaker cables for approximately 100 feet without any discernible degradation in sound quality.

The Bottom Line

If you're dealing with a domestic setup, and you don't have the option for balanced outputs, the safe bet is to go with a long run of good-quality speaker wire. This approach seems to be the best compromise between maintaining sound quality and minimizing interference, especially if the amp is placed close to the source. If the Wife Approval Factor is crucial, this method also allows for a more discreet setup. However, if your system allows for balanced connections and you're after the pinnacle of audio fidelity, XLR cables would be the recommended path.

RCA CablesDIY SolutionsSpeaker CablesHome AudioInterferenceLong Runs



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